NanoRacks-Modesto High School-The Effect of Microgravity on Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field (NanoRacks-MHS-Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field) - 09.27.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
On Earth, the presence of a weak electrical field can stimulate plant growth, possibly improving agricultural yields, but whether this is true in microgravity requires further study. NanoRacks-Modesto High School-The Effect of Microgravity on Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field (NanoRacks-MHS-Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field) is a companion investigation to NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth testing whether electricity improves plant growth in space. Results benefit efforts to grow plants for food and oxygen on future space missions.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by James Nadir, B.S. EE, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom:

Principal Investigator(s)
Valley Christian High School , Valley Christian High School, San Jose, CA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
James Nadir, B.S. EE, Valley Christian Junior High School, San Jose, CA, United States

Developer(s)
Valley Christian High School , San Jose , CA, United States
NanoRacks, LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned
47/48

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The NanoRacks-Modesto High School-The Effect of Microgravity on Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field (NanoRacks-MHS-Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field) is the reference experiment to the NanoRacks-VCHS-Electric Field on Plant Growth experiment. It creates the reference of comparison to determine the difference of growth if any.
  • An understanding of plant development aids in improving crop production and agricultural yields on Earth, and during long-term missions spaceflight.

Description

The NanoRacks-Modesto High School-The Effect of Microgravity on Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field (NanoRacks-MHS-Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field) examines how an electric field effects plant's root grown in space with the objective to determine if useful properties can be used on earth in space. To determine the effect of the electric field uniquely this reference module is needed. It grows the same type of seeds in the same conditions with the exception of an electric field.
 
The observation chamber is a cylinder shape of approximately 2.0" height by 0.5" radius that holds 4 AstroPlants, Wisconsin fast plants seeds, single layer (1 square inch) germination paper, and 0.25 cubic inches of OASIS Grow foam. The seeds are sitting on a piece of growth paper that supplies the seeds with nutrients. The growth paper is placed on top of OASIS grow foam that absorbs water. The seeds are dormant and activated aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by pumping distilled water into the growth chamber.
 
Two Piezoelectric pumps are used. They are powered by the MP6-OEM control board, which draws 40 mA at 5 V. The pump is the MP6 manufactured by Bartels. Without power, the pump is fluidically open. A Beeswick Engineering check valve is used to prevent seepage of water into the bags while the unit is unpowered. One VGA camera (c329) is used to record root growth. Photo light comes from two white light-emitting diodes and it remains ON during the course of the experiment.
 
The optimal temperature range for Wisconsin fast plant environment is 22-28°C (72-82 °F). Continuous power is needed for a minimum of 15 days after the first 28 duration hours of intermittent power. Thereafter, power can be momentarily interrupted without significant disruption to the experiment. The experiment is designed to function for the duration of the flight on board ISS but it can be shut down after 15 days if needed.

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Applications

Space Applications
Plants will be crucial for producing food and oxygen on future space missions, but they will have to grow in harsh environments with limited resources. Research on Earth shows a weak electrical current can improve plant growth, and scientists are studying whether this is also true for plants grown in microgravity. To truly understand whether electricity benefits plant growth, scientists need a control experiment growing plants in the same conditions but without electricity. This investigation provides the control group for this research, benefiting efforts to grow plants more effectively in space.

Earth Applications
Research on Earth demonstrates that electrical currents can improve plant growth, but plants exposed to electricity also consume more water. This investigation provides new insight into plant growth and development with and without high voltage electrical currents, benefiting efforts to produce higher-yield crops. In addition, students at Modesto High School designed the experiment, gaining real-world experience and training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

NanoRacks Module-22 is completely autonomous and only requires installation and removal. During actual operation photographic data is sent to the investigators to track the progress of the experiment. The first 10 days have the most data transmitted including photographs along with environmental data (humidity and temperature). The payload chamber needs to be returned to the researchers so its contents can be examined.
 
Crew interaction with Module-22 is limited to transferring the NanoRacks locker insert from the launch vehicle to the ISS, installation and activation of the NanoRacks Frames into the EXPRESS Rack Locker, cleaning of the air inlet filter (as necessary) and data retrieval (as needed) during the mission.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Imagery

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HVP PBC Board for the NanoRacks-Modesto High School-The Effect of Microgravity on Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field (NanoRacks-MHS-Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field) investigation. Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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High Voltage circuitry for the NanoRacks-Modesto High School-The Effect of Microgravity on Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field (NanoRacks-MHS-Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field) investigation. Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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Plant Chamber with water bag for the NanoRacks-Modesto High School-The Effect of Microgravity on Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field (NanoRacks-MHS-Plant Growth Without a High Voltage Electric Field) investigation.  Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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